31 March 2011

A Mystery in the Forest - Mule Deer Dinner Bell - Radiation in Chicago

Yesterday, I was able to get out in the forest with the chainsaw and do a little work. What a joy that was. Turning out to be a one day wonder as it is raining this morning. The extended forecast is still calling for rain and snow. Maybe by summer we'll get some spring.

An interesting thing happened whilst I was working. I found an artifact and I can't say for certain what it is. At first sight it just looked like a pile of rocks but upon closer inspection it is apparent the rocks have been placed. My first thought was a fire ring but the rocks are about a foot away from the base of an old larch so that's not likely. Next I thought a burial site but again the larch. It's partially covered in snow still so I'll have to wait until the snow is completely gone and ponder on it's origin and purpose later.

I cut down a bunch of mountain maple. Mountain maple is a nuisance and grows like a weed here. It's not a maple tree but kind of a long legged clump. At the moment they are still without leaves but new shoots are starting to appear. When I first started working here I figured that the sound of the a chainsaw would send the wildlife running. Not so. For the deer it's like a dinner bell and they come running. Whilst I'm working they lurk just beyond me and when I quit for the day they move in. Yesterday about twenty mule deer moved in to feast on the tender shoots. Now that's the kind of synergy that lights my candle.

This morning I see Buffett's protege  Sokol has resigned over the revelation that he purchased millions of dollars worth of shares of Lubrizol prior to recommending Buffett buy it which he did. Buffett comes out with the statement that Sokol did nothing illegal. He may not have done anything illegal but it sure as hell was immoral. And, if Sokol were a forthright person he would have disclosed that little fact up front at the time of recommending the company. The fact that he did not is a testament to his own opinion as to how right it was. And this guy was tapped to succeed Buffett? Good grief are there no honest business people left?

It was in the news this morning that Chicago has detected small amounts of radiation. Well, I guess some has flown over this cuckoos nest! I'm not particularly concerned about it as the amounts are said to be miniscule. What's more concerning are the implications. Nuclear plant accidents have far reaching effects. When it comes to nuclear we are truly a global village. What happens in one country can effect the globe when it comes to nuclear.  Nuclear plants are not completely safe and never can be because they are built on an unstable foundations. The earth's crust is not stable. It's moving about all the time and I don't believe there is, or ever will be, engineering that can effectively guard against it. It's fool hardy hubris to beleive thate we can. I am so not for nuclear energy.

I read this morning that the US debt, including off balance sheet debt,  is actaully $75 trillion. If true, and I believe it is, we are so screwed. Their is no concieveable way out of the mess the government and the Federal Reserve has gotten us into. Forget about Fukushima. We are going to be having a meltdown of our own before this is all over.

My personal philosophy is "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best". I find it's a very practical way to look at life. Those of you who want to hide behind rose colored glasses, well, lots of luck with that.

30 March 2011

Lake Koocanusa - The Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter

Yesterday Koty and I went down to the Koocanusa to see what we could see. It was cold, rainy and gray. The annual draining of the lake is underway and the water level is already quite low. Where once was beautiful blue water there are now steep cliffs and deep valleys. It's an amazing transformation. Boat ramps rest in the sand with the water line far away. No doubt they are anticipating a pot load of water from Canada. When it warms up the snow melt will surely be massive.

Lake Koocanusa 03/29/2011

Lake Koocanusa 03/29/2011

You can't make it out in the photo but the sign says "No  swimming or diving off docks". I reckon it will be awhile before anyone tries either of those ideas.

After the lake I decided to pay a visit to the new Tobacco Valley Animal Shelter. The shelter has been in operation for a number of years but until recently their facilities have been woeful to say the least. The Tobacco Valley is a part of the world where many still think animals are of no particular value. If your cat has kitties and you don't want them it's perfectly fine to put them in a gunny sack and toss them in the lake. If you have a dog that's a bother boot him out in the forest and let the wild take care of it.

With the support of the community the shelter has been able to build a new facility. It's really very impressive for our backwoods area. Thanks to the work done by staff and volunteers people are learning there is an alternative to dumping pets like so much garbage. It's a wonderful thing.

I had a nice visit with the kitties and got introduced to some of the dogs. The kitties got to me. I wanted to take them all home with me. Since the loss of Tigger I frequently entertain the idea of adoption. But, mine is a special circumstance and I must think it thorough carefully before acting.

I also learned something that I did not know before. Anybody can hang out a sign and call themselves the Human Society and just because someone does does not mean they are in any way sanctioned by the Human Society we all know. This bit of information has knocked me off the fence. From now on I'm going to adhere to the old adage "Charity begins at home". I won't miss all the crap the Human Society jams up my mailbox with all the time. I find the practice of sending a "gift" so one might feel obligated to send a donation offensive in any event. Nope, I'm going to forgo the "gifts" and give where I can see for myself what happens to the money and who's really benefiting.

When we got back to the ranch we had a welcoming committee of about twenty mule deer waiting for us at the gate. They were standing in the trees so it was difficult to get a shot of them as a group but I did get this one of this little bucky buck. Boy, he sure has grown this winter.

Young Mule Deer

©Kinsey Barnard

29 March 2011

Still Snowing - The End of the World - Something of Beauty

It's beginning to get bloody tedious this failure of spring to appear. I'm still getting days where it snows all day. The snow is light and does not stick but still I'd sure like spring to show up. The extended forecast is for more of the same. Good gollie miss Molly, this is the longest winter yet.

A reader wrote me to say that the collapse of the middle class in America isn't going to happen because "IF we minions decide to invent and bring to market something that people want and/or need....think of paper clips, or BIll Gates. Steve Jobs, or Martha Stewart, Fred Astaire, audrey Hepburn, or anyone else who didn't start out with much money, but ended up with LOTS because of their talent...The minions can be come masters if they only think they can. These folks created LOTS of jobs for other people!" I'd argue Martha, Steve and Bill created more jobs overseas than in the US. The inclusion of actors as innovators completely escapes me. The only thing I can think of is movies let people live in a fantasy world. I think this person's view represents the majority, middle class view and is precisely why the collapse is already happening but going largely unnoticed.

I came across this article which shows me how the US stacks up on science and innovation.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12885271.

As a photographer, I naturally believe a picture is worth a thousand words and this image tells me all I need to know about the future of the dollar.

I recently read and article, I don't have the link, where a person posits the reason for the market to be rising in the face of a sluggish economy. The market rising in a poor economy seems, at face value, to be counter intuitive. It seemed such to me. But, the author points out that several large economies such as India and China are moving right along and many US companies have simply left the US to produce goods an services for those economies. This abandonment of the US will help their bottom line and make shareholders happy but they won't create much in the way of jobs in the US.

Lately, I've been pondering TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it). Heaven only knows recent events have been conducive to such dark notions. Much has been written and documentaries made heralding the end of times at 12/21/2012. They say the Mayans, Nostradamus and others have prophesied that date as the end. One would have to be living in a cave not to notice the harbingers that are all around us, earthquakes, tsunamis, freak storms, solar activity, planetary alignments and on and on. Depending on how you look at it, it could be very depressing.

Obviously, I don't "know" what the future holds. I do feel something is going to happen that is going to alter life as we know it. I use the term we in the global sense. But, rather than see the event as the end I choose to see it as some kind of new beginning. I don't see the extinction of mankind but I do see the survivors as those who have prepared themselves mentally, physically and spiritually. Change is always tough and if I'm right this event will be extremely challenging. But, the good news for me is that it will be an ending that leads to a more positive beginning so I choose to embrace it!

Well, that was heavy thinking. Fortunately, a friend posted a perfectly delightful video which I am going to enjoy watching numerous times. I first saw the Budweiser Clydesdales when I was about five years old, that would be 57 years ago. They always came to be in the parade during the county fair. For 57 years they have brought tears to my eyes just to see their magnificence, the power and grace of them. Gads, I am a wuss!

27 March 2011

The Collapse of the Middle Class

A video well worth taking time to watch. I don't think it's going to be all that long until people start to wake up and find out their destiny is not going to be what they thought it would be.

The market could fall as much as 6,000 for starters. Its' all about the dollar. The dollar has never been at great er risk. Much shorter video well worth listening to.

Some images that speak volumes to me.

24 March 2011

Sunshine In Montana- In the Rest of the World Not So Much

Hot digity dog! It was sunny yesterday. Amazing how a little sunshine can lift the spirits. Koty and I took a long hike in the woods. Snow is still pretty deep up higher on the mountain but gads it was good to bask in the sun! We saw two sets of mountain lion tracks in the fresh snow, lots of bunny and bobcat tracks too. The birds were tweeting and all was well with the world. Well, my world anyway.

Snow-capped Mt. Henry in the distance and Lake Koocanusa below. Mt. Henry is actually in British Columbia.

Unfortunately, things in "the other world" aren't all that great. The middle east is in a mess and oil is over $106 this morning. I also just learned that Irish bonds are yielding 10%, a very bad sign. Many people actually think that the Fed can control interest rates. Well, short rates they can but not long bonds. Those rates are set by the marketplace. When faith in the US economy and the once mighty dollar really goes to hell in a hand basket long bond rates will rocket. Anyone with credit card debt or an adjustable mortgage will get slaughtered. When people start having to make higher payments on a house that is losing value I'd imagine there will be a whole new wave of people just walking away. It is going to happen, the only unknowable is the precise when.

I just love reading all the BS about the economic recovery. It is such blatant BS. It shows just how dumb the government thinks the public is. For the most part I think they're right. Or maybe people just believe in the power of positive thinking. Actually, I believe in it myself but positive thinking cannot overcome stupid, irresponsible living and people have been living so far beyond their means it's almost laughable. Only it's really not funny and it hasn't happened by accident. This used to be a country built on self-reliance and hard work. Today it sits in the quicksand of debt and dependence.

Funny and not so funny statistics about our so-called economic recovery.

Precious metals have been on the move again, silver in particular. I believe JP Morgan has a very large short position in silver and it looks like a short squeeze on. Since I believe JPM is amongst the biggest crooks on the planet I'd love to see them get crushed. Problem with that is; the government would mostly likely bail them out with taxpayer money. What a racket these bankster gangsters have. They cannot lose. They make a fortune screwing the public when things go their way and if things should turn against them, no problemo, the government just bails them out and the public gets screwed again. If memory serves the averge walls street bonus is around $128,000. And they say crime doesn't pay?!

©Kinsey Barnard

23 March 2011

Nuclear Waste Problems, Real Estate Still Sick ......

Nuclear Waste Problems of Our Own. If I've got things right it's those spent rods that are giving the Japanese such a problem. If you read this article you'll see the US is loaded with them and there is cause for great concern.

Here's the corker from the article but you should read the whole thing. "Users pay as taxpayers, too -- for dry storage. Utilities that have run out of storage space in pools successfully sued the federal government for breach of contract, because it failed to keep to the 1998 deadline to establish long-term storage. By law, the money for dry casks cannot come from the nuclear waste fund, and must come from the federal budget." You ever heard the expression "You can't draw blood out of a turnip?" Well, the Federal government is the turnip and it's bankrupt. Just watch how that turnip tries to draw blood out of we taxpayer turnips.

I think the whole idea of nuclear energy is insane. Even birds know better than to poop in their own nest. Humans obviously are not as smart as birds. Next time someone calls you a bird brain be sure and say thank you! Solar is the obvious choice. I honestly don't believe that if all the money that was thrown at nuclear had been thrown at solar they would not have been able to come up with a economically viable plan to use it. I think the problem lies in the fact that the best way to collect it is individually as in all of us having solar panels on our roofs. But, that's no good cause then the gov and the utilities haven't any control over it and can't charge you through the nose for it. Money, money, money makes the world go around.

Speaking of meltdowns Portugal is about to collapse. I think we are headed for a global economic meltdown and the small country meltdowns we have seen are merely harbingers of things to come on a global scale.

Real Estate still not showing many signs of life. I don't think we have seen the bottom of real estate prices. I subscribe to a service that sends me notices on bank owned property coming on the market in the Flathead. The list keeps growing and the price reductions keep coming. I'd like to buy a pied-a-terre down there, it gets tiresome driving back and forth, but I'm going to keep my powder dry.

If you want to contact me I suggest you do it through my photography site. MSN keeps sending me e-mails that they are going to close my kotybear e-mail account if I don't send them my personal information which I'm not going to do and I can't change my contact information because Blogger says it doesn't support my browser which is Firefox and they do support but want me to down load again. I know some people have trouble with the comments thing and I'm sorry about that but it's out of my control.

Speaking of photography, I'll leave you with this image of clouds that I saw a few days ago. I love clouds and they are free!

Clouds, butterflies and the beneficial rays of the sun are free!

©Kinsey Barnard

22 March 2011

No Spring in Northwest Montana

The snow just keeps on coming and according to the extended forecast there seems no end in sight. Very frustrating as I am chomping at the bit to get started working in my forest cutting up windfall and burning slash.

March 22, 2011

The Nikkei was up over 400 points following Buffett's proclamation yesterday. Always makes me wonder what comes first the chicken or the egg? Our own Dow was up triple digits. And, there was much chest thumping about being back over 12,000.

This is a pretty good little history of our empire. A Brief History of the United States. Ironically, I think success is an empire's ultimate doom. Empires grow and proper in the production phase of their life cycle but once people become "wealthy" they move into the consumption phase and it's all down hill from there. That's where the US is now. The only thing this country produces in quantity is dollars. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is becoming less than enamored with our currency and when it loses it's status as the world reserve currency, and it's well on it's way, our standard of living is going straight into the dumper. I wonder if one day people will wake up and realize that they sold their very souls for cheap trinkets from China?

Speaking of cheap trinkets form China .... they really aren't cheap. They just give the illusion. The quality is so crappy you have to keep buying the stuff over and over because it doesn't last. Oh, for the days when Americans made great, quality products. I have tools, kitchen utensils, furniture and a host of items that were American made 100 years ago and I still use them today. The junk you buy at Wal-Mart is lucky to make it a year.

I found this an interesting article. Maybe people are starting to catch on to the fact that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. It matters not the party, the politicians of both are nearly all self serving thieves. And we elect them, go figure! Tea Party will back Democrats challenging GOP big spenders in 2012. Also interesting, Montana's own Denny Rehberg is in their crosshairs.

21 March 2011

Spring? Happy Days are Here Again?

Well, the calendar may say it's spring but I sure wouldn't know it by looking out the window or at the thermometer. It snowed all day Friday and it's snowing right now. The temp is 35. Must be global warming. I said global warming was a boondoggle from the start and nothing has happened to change my opinion. The whole thing is just another scam to scare people and part them from their hard earned cash. Like we need more of those types of things.

Over the weekend the UN started to bomb the heck out of Libya and there seemed to be some progress on getting Japan's nuclear reactors under control. This morning the Dow made a moon shoot on all the happy news. Well, there was some not so good news on the economic front but on one wants you to focus on those. Building permits came it at an historic low and this morning real estate sales were reported down nearly 10%. Oil, which dropped during the Japanese earthquake, is now soundly back above $100.

These markets are just insane. It's like watching a manic depressive or someone with ADD. One minute this is good next minute it's bad. It happens so fast that it's hard to keep up.

There is one thing that seems to just keep moving along and that's precious metals. When I got into them, in 1999, gold was around $300/oz. Today, it's trading above $1,400/oz. I told many of my friends and acquaintances that gold was the place to put your money. But, the dot-com craze was the gamble du jour and I was laughed at universally. It always amuses me how people cannot wait to take the advice of so-called experts, all of whom have a vested interest in your taking that advice. And, when someone with absolutely nothing to gain tries to advise a little common sense they are shunned. There is an old saying "The more things change, the more they remain the same." One thing that never seems to change is peoples endless desire to be led down the primrose path.

The "Oracle of Omaha" came out and said Japan is a buy. So, I guess everyone will be buying the Nikkei. I use to have a lot of respect for Warren Buffett but that was before the media and the public decided to deify him. If you think Buffett gives a fig about you and your wealth think again. What he cares about is his shareholders and Bershire Hathaway. He talks his own book. He is well aware of the impact of his public proclamations.

Now I hear there is a new comet, Elenin, headed our way this fall and it's supposed to be a bad omen, as if we need more bad omens especially in the fall.

The "big" moon yesterday was quite something to see. They say it won't be that large again until 2029. It was much more extraordinary in person.

Things are changing and they are changing faster than most realize. I think within two years life as we have known it is going to be changed forever. How do I know? The same way I knew gold was a great investment back in 1999.

19 March 2011

West Coast Earthquake? Free Markets? Snow?

What a week this has been. Naturally, the news has been dominated by the disaster in Japan but things in the middle east have been hotting up whilst attention has been elsewhere. The UN finally got off it's duff and voted for a no-fly zone in Libya and Gadhafi folded like the blood sucking coward he is. Some wonder if his quick capitulation might be some kind of dastardly strategy. Time will tell. (Update) Well, seems the cease fire has already collapsed.

The news has been all about the radiation threat from the reactors that were damaged in the quake and subsequent tsunami. The news has gotten people all worked up on the West Coast to the extent that they have purchased all the potassium iodine they can get their hands on. That IMO, is pure hysteria. People will probably be popping the stuff even though they don't need it and making themselves sick from it. The FDA is reporting fake pills are being sold.

Apparently, folks on the West Coast should be more concerned about a major earthquake of their own according to one geologist West Coast Earthquake

I've been invested in and interested in the markets for 50 years. When I was 11 years old I inherited 100 shares of AT&T and those 100 shares became the foundation of all what have accumulated. But, as I watch the antics of the markets today I can only think these are not the markets I was raised on. I am totally convinced that "investing" in the market is an oxymoron, there's no such thing today. They are run by computers and controlled by invisible hands that inject liquidity when it looks like the market might suffer a severe downturn. This past week there was so much bad news one might have thought that there would have been some sort of serious sell off, there really wasn't. Some individual stocks got hammered but all in all it was a pretty ho hum week. It's just nuts.

I ventured down to the Flathead on Friday. Boy, was it ever gorgeous. I've not seen so much snow on the mountains in the nine years I've been here. Big Mountain must be beyond happy as at the rate things are melting they may be skiing right into Easter week. From Kalispell you can look right into Glacier and it's just stunning. I look at all this beauty and wonder if it, and us, are on the brink of extinction. This planet has been uninhabitable for the majority of it's 4.5 billion years. Is it moving toward a return to the norm?

I kinda feel like the people in the 1959 film "On the Beach".

Then to add insult to injury, it snowed all day today.

16 March 2011

Japanese Crisis Continues-Markets Fall

Today the Japanese crisis continued with more explosions at their nuclear plants. The Japanese market basically crashed, down nearly 11% to 8,605 overnight. This morning US futures were under stress and governors were put into place to stem the slide. About the only things not getting hit were solar companies and bonds. Oh, and Netflix.

Meanwhile, the middle east has been hot but attention to the Japanese situation has over shadowed those developments to a great degree.

I'm glad I have things like a Morro Bay Sunset to enjoy whilst the world seems to become unhinged.

Amazingly enough the Dow closed down only 138 points. I sometimes wonder if people haven't been dumbed/numbed down by all the apocalypse movies and reality programs. Are they looking at the devastation in Japan and just seeing a movie? Perhaps not. Maybe it's only market participants who are unphased by the events in Japan. Apparently, potassium iodine is flying off the shelves in the US because people are worried about radiation reaching the states.

14 March 2011

Earthquake Prediction

Found this video this morning. It's pretty amazing in that the big earthquake Japan had on Friday was actually predicted with astonishing accuracy.

It's my father's birthday today. Hard to believe he has been gone fifteen years already. He would have been 98 which is also hard to imagine.

13 March 2011

The Week of March 7th, 2011 Japan Quake

This was one of those weeks when the weather was everything from rain to snow, cold to warm, sunny to cloudy, a real box of chocolates. I was so uninspired by the thought I never even made it into to town to pick up the mail.

Two memorable things happened this week. The biggest was an 8.9 earthquake in Japan, the strongest earthquake in their recorded history. The devastation from the quake and the ensuing tsunami is just incredible. Makes me wonder if the Mayans were on to something. On top of everything some nuclear reactors have been damaged and the world waits to see how that unfolds.

The second thing was relative to the markets. Bill Gross' Pimco is pulling out of all US debt. As far as I know no one but me thinks much about it but I think it will prove to be a watershed event.

Below are some pictures I took of my world.

This is a piece of bark that had fallen into the fresh snow. The snow was so light that the piece sank about three quarters of an inch into the snow. I thought it looked like a gingerbread man or some kind of man.

Just messing around in the house because it was raining.

I was sitting in the recliner looking at the sunset when I noticed this silhouette of a crow perched in the top of a fir tree. This is lazy man's photography

Came across this red leaf that was uncovered by the melting snow. It's hard to tell but the leaf is sitting on the snow.

The view from the kitchen window whilst I washed dishes on Friday. I love the angles and contrast.

One of the house herd nesting. The mulies seem to like to be close to the house. I took this out the kitchen window too.

I took this one Saturday. It was a beautiful day. I love the big sky.

06 March 2011

My Week in Pictures-Montana

It was a pretty gray week here in NW Montana. This is not unusual. Sunny days, in winter in my area, are the exception. If you are a sun worshiper you would not like it here in the winter.

This icicle was exceptionally long and lovely but whilst I was trying to find a good angle to photograph it, i.e. without the eave of the house, it fell to the ground in a heap!

Throughout the winter I have been trying to capture Mother Nature's artistry in the form of icicles. Earlier in the week I published my results Icicle Series.

The snow has been so deep I have had to put on my snowshoes to take my hikes. The snowshoes were also one of the most colorful sites I saw all week. Here I am lying flat on my back looking up hill. The stuff was like walking in mashed potatoes. Koty is also looking up the trail yelling "Get up you lazy bones!"

Along the way I took this photo of some aspen trunks. I just find their skins so interesting and beautiful.

In case you can't tell, this is a photo of Koty's front paw. The reason I'm showing it to you is because I find this fascinating. Notice all the feathery fur sprouting from between his toes? This is something that only happens in winter to help insulate his pads from the snow and ice. By summer it will all be gone. I think that's so amazing.

Speaking of ice.

Thursday we had a reprieve from the gloom. This is a photo of "The View". I call it that because it is what I see when I look out my living room window. This landscape is ever changing and ever beautiful. No two are ever the same.

Since it was kind of sunny I took the opportunity to slide into town and run some errands. This is the main county road down to town. It isn't paved either. Around here we don't drive SUV's with four wheel drive just to look cool. If I didn't have one I'd never be able to live where I do. I also use studded tires in winter.

I love clouds and Montana has some of the best.

One of the chores I must attend to is taking my trash to the dump. No garbage service in the wilderness. I really don't mind. It's a great value and I can attend to it on my own timetable. This photo is of the Canadian Rockies (sorry for the strand of barbed wire across the bottom. I was too lazy to get out of the car). :) The reason I'm showing it to you is because even from the dump the views around here are spectacular!

Not to belabor the point but the views are spectacular even from the parking lot at the market. What you are looking at is the Galton Range and, I believe, Poorman and Kasanka Mountains.

Ho hum, just the landscape on the drive home.

Another phenom I find interesting. When it starts to warm up, which it has done in the past couple of days, these tiny insects appear on the snow. It looks like someone has sprinkled pepper all around. They just started showing up a few years ago. I don't know what they are. I call them snow fleas but they are much smaller than dog fleas. I thought this photo of them looked like a portrait of Koty.

That's all I have to report for this week. As I was writing this it started snowing so I reckon winter has quite thrown in the towel yet.

Until next time .....

©Kinsey Barnard